News & Blog

CFI Blog

The Truth Detectors: Gen Z Seeks Honesty from Brands

They want the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

A new study shows that Gen Z, raised to question fake news, is suspicious of secrecy and holds sincerity as sacred. This up-and-coming generation wants transparency and honesty – more so than generations that have come before.

While the food and agriculture sectors have made great strides to that end (and kudos to those stepping up), the next generation of consumers could be a game changer. The study finds that a majority of Gen Zs are more skeptical about brands and want proof that brands align with their values.

The research from The Consumer Goods Forum and Futerra shows that 79 percent of Gen Z, defined as 22 and under, believe brands are never honest, or not honest enough, about environmental issues. That’s quite a leap from Millennials (23 to 28 years old), 66 percent of whom believe the same.

Almost 90 percent of Millennials and Gen Z personally care if they receive honest information about products. But only 42 percent of Gen Z think brands care about providing honest information (compared with 66 percent of Millennials). It’s a significant trust gap.

The good, the bad and the ugly

This study and years of research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) show that transparency equals trust, and that consumers want to hear about the good, the bad and the ugly. They value companies – and farms – that demonstrate they are continually striving to do things better.

The latest study shows that 58 percent of both Millennials and Gen Z would trust a brand more if it shared challenges and “work in progress” on difficult issues. Clearly, they don’t expect perfection, but do want truthfulness. Nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z say they search out more honest products when purchasing.

CFI transparency research also shows that consumers want to see a company’s practices, because companies that demonstrate what they’re doing shows values in action. When you can show that you share the same values as consumers when it comes to the environment, food safety, animal care, workforce management and the like, trust is earned.

As a Consumer Goods Forum spokesman said: “Millennials drove brands to be purposeful, but Gen Z is demanding proof.”

Don’t turn your back

It’s estimated that by next year, Gen Zs will have about $3 trillion in purchasing power. That’s significant. Embrace the new generation and its needs – now – or risk being left behind.

Gen Zs are online, on the lookout for credible sources and on course to push brands even further to be open and demonstrate they are ethical. They are “connected” and want the same from companies. Provide them platforms to engage and be heard. Be responsive when they reach out. Be honest if they expose a need for improvement.

The changing dynamics present an exciting opportunity to take transparency to a new level. We’re happy to help you get there. Learn more about our Clear View of Transparency workshop where participants are guided through a hands-on evaluation of their organizations’ public-facing communication materials. We provide recommendations for immediate next steps and tools to help you take them.

Gen Z’s purchasing power and influence is only going to increase. Getting ahead of the curve to give them the transparency they expect will serve you well. Drop us a note if you’re interested at